So we had a British General Election in 2015. And 2017. And now 2019.
So much for Fixed Term Parliaments. And of course this winter election (surely it tempts fate) will be mostly about BREXIT.
I have always believed that a General Election is really 650 different elections. And I think it is more so this year.
Party Politics, certainly as we have known it is broken. And in so far that this makes the “United Kingdom” more unstable, then it is a case of “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity”.
The English, the Brexiteers who have bemoaned “Great” Britain losing it’s place as a world leader have decided to accelerate the decline and fall.
Too early for predictions of course but some observations.
As Parliament breaks up, it is obvious that there is more talent on the Conservative government back benches than on the front bench. It is an inevitable conquest of the blood-letting since 2015 that there is a lot of mutual animosity. Ken Clarke, Theresa May, Dominic Grieve, Justine Greening to name a few on the back benches. And the likes of Steve Barclay, Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and James Cleverley on the front bench…it says it all.
And it does not look any better on the Opposition benches. Bloodletting and mass sulking means Hillary Benn, Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband and Liz Kendall are on the back benches. Now of course I don’t have to like Ms Kendall to see that she has a degree of seniority (if not obvious talent) to play a bigger role. And while it is obvious Stephen Kinnock has an exaggerated sense of his worth and seemingly a sense of entitlement, he has enough supporters around him who think he has a more senior role to play.
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn surrounds himself with old London cronies like John McDonnell and Diane Abbott. Clearly there are so called senior Labour MPs who will suddenly be elevated when Corbyn loses the leadership.
This seems like a proxy war between advisors Dominic Cummings behind Boris Johnson and Seamus Milne behind Corbyn.
Arguably the case for Remain Alliance (Lib Dem, Green, Plaid Cymru) is strengthened by the defection of ex-Conservative MPs and even occasional ex-Labour MPs but conversely it weakens the Liberal Democrat brand.
Meanwhile the most coherent party in Westminster is the Scottish National Party.
And (maybe) waiting in the wings but more likely hurling on the ditch is the Brexit Party. They may not win seats but can certainly affect results.
Going into this election as a minority government, the Tories first reality check is that they will lose most of their handful of seats in Scotland. The Tories, always a coalition of landowners, farmers, city bankers and the just plain greedy are targeting northern working class constituencies (traditionally Labour seats) and hoping that the xenophobic Brexit Party can drain away enough votes so that Tories pick up seats.
Meanwhile, the City of London bankers and suburban voters are not impressed with the economic reality of BREXIT and might defect to the Lib Dems.
The key in most constituencies is First Past the Post. If say Tories get 30% of the vote, Labour 29%, Lib Dem 20% , Brexit 15% then the Tories take the seat. And there are I feel going to be a lot of MPs from all parties elected who are well short of being supported by the majority of the voters in the constituency.
This of course will lead to tactical voting, for example a Labour supporter voting for the Lib Dems to keep out the Tories and so on.
But two things…already around sixty MPs have declared they will retire from politics. Add in the attrition from a “normal” Election and the attrition from this Election, it looks like the new Parliament will be more inexperienced than usual.
Over the past two years, we have got to know more MPs than usual. Tom Brake, Andrew Bridgen, Philip Lee, Richard Burgon, Tobias Ellwood, Heidi Allen, Mark Francois, Joanna Cherry. And so on.
We “know” these people because they jump up in the Commons to say things like “will the honourable member give way?” and hang around the lobby, hoping to get interviewd live by Vicky Young, Beth Rigby and the rest.
Sometimes we cant remember the names. “yer man that had the affair with…”, “the woman who is always crying”, “the one with the glasses”, “the one that I cant stand the sight of…” and so on. Almost as an afterthought, we say “Lib Dem”, “Labour”, “Tory”.
Every election night…..and most results will be declared on Friday 13th December has its share of “moments”. Did you stay up for…Michael Portillo? Nick Clegg? Peter Robinson?
Who will we say that about on Friday 13th December?
Who will be the memorable loser?
“Did you stay up for….?”
Anna Soubrey? Chukka Ummana? Yvette Cooper? Nigel Dodds? Emma Little Pengelley?